Forever known as the FyreGames, GLISA and the Outgames died in 2017 along with their values of “Sports, Culture and Human Rights” when the organizers had taken part in a massive and systemic campaign of fraud that left the 2000+ participants and promised guest stars in limbo when the event was cancelled 6 hours before the start of the opening ceremonies.
Thanks to the foresight of the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics and Football Associations, the only sports that weren’t cancelled were aquatics and football. While the board members of the parent body ultimately responsible for the Outgames, GLISA, as well as the organizers of the Miami event themselves enjoyed taking part in the non-cancelled “cultural events” which consisted of cruises, day trips and other things deemed too exclusive for regular participants. The athletes themselves were left to pick up the pieces of their sports and organize ad hoc events with the help of the local community in Miami.
With no refunds, no communication, no answers to questions, nothing. The outrage was swift. As the 2017 Outgames organizers quickly disappeared from Miami and calls for GLISA and the Outgames to officially die started ringing out. Many athletes called their banks to successfully dispute the charges of their registration fees. GLISA released a vague and halfhearted statement trying to wash their hands of responsibility but nobody was fooled. Everybody left Miami with disappointment and anger. 3 former presidents of GLISA released a letter calling for GLISA and Outgames to die. Winnepeg, the hosts of the 2019 North American Outgames announced that they were dumping the Outgames and didn’t want to be associated with such a fraudulent and toxic organization. And without notice, suddenly www.glisa.org went offline.
Before all this went down mind you, there was already a lot of talk and hype about the NEXT World Outgames after Miami, the 2021 World Outgames in Buenos Aires, they even had a big team to represent the organization in Miami. Perhaps they were blindsided by all this too, but perhaps not. As a quick visit to the BA 2021 Facebook Page at the time noted. A lot of pictures of the ad hoc sporting events were shared with messages that Miami was successful and most definitely not a giant clusterfuck. That Facebook page has also conveniently disappeared. So, what does all this anecdotal evidence mean? Not a damn thing.
However, when the World Outgames Buenos Aires 2021 Facebook Page disappeared, another one was created dubbed “LGBT Games 2020 Buenos Aires” which might not even matter if the next hosts of the World Outgames had dumped GLISA and decided to try their efforts at hosting their own event. What is worrisome however is that they have adopted the “Sports, Culture, Human Rights” mantra of GLISA and it appears they are partnered with the only surviving body of GLISA which is the Latin America Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association. Their still somewhat active Facebook pages show that the perpetrators of the World Outgames Miami fraud are still very active and involved. Having fled to South America to scam and fraud one of the few LGBTQ+ sports communities that isn’t on to their old tricks. The infrequent postings, most of it not relevant to the actual mission to the organization, are the same red flags that led up to Miami and the many other Outgames scandals. Including the bidding process for the 2017 World Outgames, 2016 Asia Pacific Outgames in Auckland, 2016 North American Outgames in St. Louis (especially after some really sketchy things surrounding GLISA’s involvement with the original hosts Denver), the discussions that took place with the Federation of Gay Games regarding the organization of a “One World Event”, The mismanagement of funds at the 2009 World Outgames, and of course the 2006 World Outgames in Montreal filing for bankruptcy. They are just as inconsistent and disorganized as they always have been, it’s clear they didn’t learn anything from their 14 years of experience doing it all wrong. For a bunch of people worried about “Human Rights” they seem to have no problem continuing to take advantage of peoples’ enthusiasm and excitement of being part of something special, just to make a few extra bucks. They should change their motto “Sports, Culture, Human Rights, Stealing People’s Money.”
It is sad to see that this is still happening within our community. I am all about building the LGBTQ+ Sports Community in Latin America and expanding opportunities for growth. With the legitimate issues that LGBTQ+ face in Latin America, they don’t need a bunch of charlatans masquerading as sports organizers coming in and giving them false hope and fake support just to steal their money. Don’t be fooled, we don’t want a sequel to the FyreGames.
By Dirk Smith